I interview many people but Dr. Terrence Farrell, Economist and former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of T&T is certainly one of the smartest. A very affable interviewee as well.
As many of you might know I live and work in Trinidad & Tobago which is a strange mishmash of Victorian laws and modernity. Ignoring the Sexual Offenses Act which might be problematic for me were I not given only 3 months in the country on my last entry :
13. (1) Aperson who commits buggery is guilty of an offence
and is liable on conviction to imprisonment—
(a) if committed by an adult on a minor, for life;
(b) if committed by an adult on another adult, for
(c) if committed by a minor, for five years.
(2) In this section “buggery” means sexual intercourse
per anum by a male person with a male person or by a male person
with a female person
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to an act of serious
indecency committed in private between—
(a) a husband and his wife; or
(b) a male person and a female person each of whom
is sixteen years of age or more, both of whom
consent to the commission of the act.
(3) An act of “serious indecency” is an act, other than
sexual intercourse (whether natural or unnatural), by a person
involving the use of the genital organ for the purpose of arousing
or gratifying sexual desire.
Nope, no sexism, homophobia or overt discrimination there. Actually, given my life of late it probably wouldn’t affect me but still.
What else is said you ask? Let me check… Oh wait there are laws that were introduced to placate religious groups. Like India …Oh wait…India is secular…what has T&T done?
There is a Muslim marriage act. That allows…wait..what? A 12 year old girl to be married? Seriously?
8. The age at which a person, being a member of the Muslim
community, is capable of contracting marriage shall be sixteen in
the case of males and twelve in the case of females
However, in the case of an intended marriage between persons
either of whom is under eighteen years of age (not being a widower
or widow), the consent to the marriage, of the father if living or if
the father is dead of the guardian or guardians lawfully appointed
or of one of them, and in case there is no such guardian then of the
mother of the person so under age, and if the mother is dead then
of such other person as may be appointed for the purpose by the
President,shall be certified in writing by the marriage officer before
whom the marriage is contracted upon the certificate ofthe marriage
to be issued in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
The law is here.
Hindus fought for another offensive marriage age. Not quite as awful but still impressively pervy and sexist .
11. (1) The age at which a person, being a member of the
Hindu faith or religion, is capable of contracting marriage shall be
eighteen years in the case of males and fourteen years in the case
(2) Without prejudice to the provisions of subsection (1),
a marriage shall not be solemnised by a Marriage Officer if the
intended husband (not being a widower), is under eighteen years
of age or the intended wife (not being a widow) is under sixteen
years of age unless the consent to the marriage of the party who is
under age by virtue of thissubsection has been given in accordance
with the following provisions of this section, and the consent is
hereby required for the marriage of such party under age.
(3) The required consent may be given by the father of
the party under age, and if the father is dead by the guardian or
guardians appointed or one of them, and in case there is no such
guardian then by the mother of the party so under age, and if the
mother is dead then by such other person as may be appointed for
the purpose by the President.
(4) In case the father, mother, or a guardian whose consent
to a marriage is required under subsection (3) is absent from
Trinidad and Tobago or is unable or refuses to give the consent or
is not of sound mind, the party in whose case consent is required
may apply to the President to appoint a person, being a member of
the Hindu community, to investigate the circumstances of the
intended marriage and if after the investigation it appears to the
person so appointed that there are no reasonable objections to the
intended marriage such person shall so formally declare in writing
and the declaration shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed
equivalent to the consent as aforesaid.
Yes, T&T can’t deal with LGBT rights but it is so on the ball for child marriage rights.
Via African Activist ( rapidly becoming my favorite site) ,
“Eighty-five nations endorsed the UN Joint Statement on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identitypresented by Colombia to the UN Human Rights Council, an inter-governmental body within the United Nations made up of 47 states. The statement was signed by the Central African Republic, Rwanda, and South Africa.”
As usual, in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic was progressive. Surprisingly, Cuba also voted in support. The English Caribbean ( including T&T which continues to betray its alleged commitment to human rights) was notably absent except for Dominica. I can only surmise that the normally homophobic Dominica either had a coup or someone pushed the wrong button.
Letter from the T&T Humanist Association on the current capital punishment debate in Trinidad & Tobago.
The Trinidad Express is continuing its relentless coverage of the call for national legislation to be amended so as to provide equal rights and protection for the LGBT community. This comes on the heels of several other articles and a poll asking readers to vote on the issue.
“THE decriminalisation of homosexuality should have nothing to do with religion, says Dr Gabrielle Hosein, lecturer at the Institute for Gender and Developmental Studies at the University of the West Indies in St Augustine.
Hosein said while religious organisations are ready to hold their own positions based on religious texts, those religious positions should not be applied to persons who do not share those religious views.
“We are living in a multicultural society, so we need to live in a society where the views of different persons are not necessarily imposed on others,” Hosein said in a telephone interview on Thursday.
Her comments came one day after Colin Robinson, spokesman for the Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO), called on the Government to adopt a policy of equality for all, inclusive of those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.
Trinidad & Tobago still had old British colonial sodomy laws on the books but strangely, in the pull and tug of a debate on something unrelated, the issue of same sex marriage arose.
From the Trinidad Guardian today:
“Debate on same-sex marriage must start and must be taken throughout the country, Gender Affairs Minister Mary King said yesterday. She made the statement in the Senate during debate on the Statutory Authorities Amendment Bill. Several senators brought up the issue of same-sex marriage where clauses concerning co-habitants were concerned in the bill. King, who noted how the issue of same-sex unions was being dealt with in the UK, said:
“The debate must start and we must ensure that debate is taken throughout the country and when the recommendations come in they will be taken to the Cabinet for decisions.”
The good folks at CAISO|GSPOTTT have been trying to get an answer from the Government of Trinidad & Tobago as to why the country abstained in two separate UN 3rd Committee votes. As you may recall the matter revolved around a bloc of African and Muslim countries trying to remove a clause that protected persons from extrajudicial killing ( murder) as a result of their sexual orientation. After the protection was initially removed the United States stepped in and managed to turn the vote around.
What CAISO|GSPOTTT has discovered is that the government seems to be rather confused ( read: doesn’t know its ass from its elbow) on the matter:
Just in: Over the past seven weeks we’ve been following up repeatedly on your calls, emails, faxes and letters to our Min. of Foreign Affairs and United Nations mission. Our country abstained twice on UN votes regarding whether to condemn “extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions” (in more simple terms, murder) based on sexual orientation. We asked them to tell us why. After all, they had promised transparency and accountability in foreign policy.
Well, apparently our new Government isn’t sure whether we are opposed to killing gay people or not.
As CAISO|GSPOTTT also notes this is the same government whose leader said ( just six days after being elected) :
Discrimination and unfairness does exist in our society but it affects so many rather just one community. It includes, but is certainly not limited to, racial bias.
Discrimination and prejudice is amorphous and has different sources and motivations: it may be based on gender, class, poverty, political affiliation, contact technology or who-yuh-know, locality, sexual orientation, victims of HIV and yes, race.
Read more here.